Runner’s Night Before Christmas
A Visit from Coach Nicholas
By Shannon Banks
Adapted from the poem “The Night Before Christmas” by Clement Clarke Moore.
‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the town
Not a runner was stirring, their Garmins powered down.
The Balegas were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that Coach Nick soon would be there.
The sprinters were curled up, snug in their beds,
While visions of starting blocks danced in their heads.
And the marathoners in compression socks and triathletes in swim caps,
Had all elevated their legs for a post-long-run nap.
When from the piles of old running shoes, there came such a clatter,
I shuffled achily out of bed to see what was the matter.
Armed with a massage stick, I peered outside,
If not for my noisy creaking joints, I could hide!
The moon on the running-shoeprint-crisscrossed snow
Gave the shine of a finisher’s medal to objects below.
When, what to my raccoon-tan-lined eyes should appear,
But a miniature press van, and eight high-arched reindeer!
With a lean, steel-abbed leader, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be COACH NICK!
Faster than Kenyans his harriers they came,
And he cheered, and rang cowbells, and called them by name!
“Now Deena! Now, Kara! Now, Shalane and Lauren!
On Ryan, on Meb, on Mo, and on Dathan!
To the top of the hill, conquer that wall!
Now use your kicks to dash away, dash away all!”
As empty Gu packets that after the water stop fly,
When they’re tossed by a racer, float to the sky,
So up to the housetop the harriers they flew,
With the little van full of running toys, and a wise coach, too.
And then, like a starter’s gun, I heard on the roof
The stridings and high-knees of each calloused hoof.
As I scratched my pony-tailed head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney Coach Nick came with a bound!
He was dressed in technical fabric, from his head to his toe,
And his clothes were all reflective (safe and stylish, don’t you know).
A bundle of running gadgets he had flung on his back,
Like a race expo vendor, with tons of merch on the rack.
His eyes – clad in Oakleys! His nose with a Breathe-Right!
He sported a headlamp to see in the night!
His well-chapsticked mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And his retro painter’s gloves were whiter than snow.
A well-stocked fuel belt he wore snug ‘round his waist,
And his head in a toasty Beanie was encased.
He had a long stride and a feather-light tread,
And brand-new shoes in a festive shade of red!
He was tall and fit, a picture-perfect old coach,
I didn’t dare laugh, for fear of reproach.
But he carried no stopwatch, nor menacing glance.
This wasn’t a hard workout, but a relaxed circumstance!
He chomped down a PowerBar, then got to the task at hand,
Filling those socks with visors, and BodyGlide, and fresh new hairbands.
Then, laying his finger aside of his nose,
Blew a righteous snot rocket, and up the chimney he rose!
With an explosive sprint to the little van, Coach Nick whistled,
And away his team ran, like long-distance missiles.
But I heard Coach exclaim, ‘ere they raced out of sight,
“PRs and sound bodies to all, and to all a good-night!”